Friday, December 28, 2012

Pretty Mouth Interview

One of the more interesting - and irate - hardcore records I heard in 2012 was Pretty Mouth's Men of the Tie, Men of the Cloth, Men of the Lie. Considering the incendiary lyrics, I figured this was a band that had a lot to get off their chests. I fired off ten questions to the band, and vocalist Lance Marwood did not disappoint with his responses. Strap yourself in, dude's got something to say:

photo by Joel Gale
DoC: Pretty Mouth only formed earlier this year; what were you guys up to before that? 

Andrew was spearheading The Blind Surgeons Operation, while Aodhan and Kyle were playing guitar and drums respectively for Lung. Both were doing well, from what I understand, and I liked their music. I was in a band called Anger, with some close friends, and we’d been doing that for a couple years. Since we started the band, however, all of our respective bands have dissolved and now all of us are involved in this as our main project.

How the band started began with a mutual friend and a lot of alcohol. Joe, the bassist in Lung, had just started working at The Labyrinth Lounge (this is back in July of this year) and since I’d been working between there and the restaurant next door for nearly five years by that point, we inevitably started talking and hanging out. Joe introduced me to Kyle one night. We started talking about bands that we really love, and we discovered that we both love Daughters. We mentioned other bands, like Anal Cunt, that we used to laugh at and enjoy how offensive they were strictly from an offensive standpoint. At this point we started talking about starting another band. Now, I’ve had this fucking conversation a hundred fucking times with a hundred different fucking people, but since I can’t play an instrument, I’ve always got the eye roll and the shove off, polite as that may be. But this time, for whatever reason, we just held each other accountable. I guess we were just really drunk (something I am known to do quite often) and that was our “thing” that night, but I can’t help but feel that it was our own desire to finally see something through.

Needless to say, how we met and talked about what we wanted to do heavily influenced how we sound now.

DoC: You recorded the album at Dream House Studios in Toronto. What made you choose this studio? How long did it take you to record? What were the sessions like?

Haha, I didn’t have shit to do with that decision. Lung had left over time at that studio, and when they opted out, Kyle got it for us instead, which was amazing, because it meant we were recording seven songs after being together for only a month. We recorded the four songs on the EP plus three more in ten hours on August 5th with Crispin Day. It was honestly one of my favourite experiences in music. It was just an incredible feeling, having all this momentum and doing things so fast, and having this exciting new project. There’s a video of us at Dream House that I have included after the jump.

We were just super stoked and drinking and having fun and recording songs that we were (and still are) in love with. Our close friend Mac was hanging out with us, Crispin was awesome to work with, and generally we were having a great time.

photo by Yoshi Cooper @ Yosh Photography
DoC: Hardcore can be pretty formulaic, but Pretty Mouth largely eschews standard HC song structures/clich├ęs. What led to this approach?

As I mentioned earlier, when Kyle and I were talking about bands we love, Daughters was our uniting love. It’s funny, when all four of us are hanging out, none of us can agree on ANYTHING except for Daughters.

With that in mind, when Kyle and I first jammed was when I first met Andrew, our guitarist. In that jam, which was July 6, we wrote 4 songs. They were all quick songs, none longer than 30 seconds. The next jam was with our bassist Aodhan, who just added this fucking vicious punch to everything that was going on with the music that Kyle and Andrew had laid down. Aodhan and Andrew's dynamic is incredible, because they're both able to propose riffs and work off of the other pretty seamlessly. Kyle is remarkable at just being able to work on something a hundred different ways without hesitation. I'm grateful for the musicians that I've found myself working alongside, that's for sure. When we first started talking about what we wanted to do in the band though, they were supposed to be grind songs about offensive bullshit, with enough twang and dissonance to make us feel like some bizarro Anal Cunt cover band. Instead, we started writing songs that were definitely violent and fast, but the guys were writing unusual patterns and making choices that started to become something different entirely. As for the lyrical content, I started writing about themes that were on my mind at the time, of the problems facing this world, the things that are eating away at our society.

photo by Yoshi Cooper @ Yosh Photography
I feel as though we do sometimes slip into the formula of “parts” like breakdowns, but for the most part we want to be different and a bastard child on the periphery of hardcore. I personally have no interest in confining myself to what makes “good” hardcore. If I have to listen to another patched up Toronto or Montreal douchebag tell me with an upturned nose what “real” hardcore is, I’m going to fucking kill myself. That’s a real problem right now. There are a ton of bands that are fucking killing it, but aren’t getting any respect because they don’t happen to know the “right” people or play with the “right” bands. It’s funny, I’ve noticed that unless you conform to a particular sound and style, you get labeled as a metalcore band or are simply snubbed, while the only difference between a lot of these “real” bands is their aesthetic choices for records and shirts. There’s so much “genre-fying” made by all these people that consider themselves to be part of some higher sanctum or some bullshit. I’d like to see more people do something that challenges, instead of pandering to people.

But more importantly, the music we make is intentionally making choices that go outside what we normally hear. As for myself, I’ve written my lyrics to give a voice to things I hear in my head, while delivering them in a way that has more options. Sometimes I want to drawl over everything; at other times I want to scream to punctuate the violence of what we’re playing.

photo by Yoshi Cooper @ Yosh Photography
DoC: Men of the Tie, Men of the Cloth, Men of the Lie is an incredibly angry record. What's going on in Canada that has you guys so worked up?

Hahaha, there’s too much to even begin with, but I’m probably going to ramble here. On a global level, there’s been this recent trend of neoliberalism that has wrought intense financial destruction on economies the world over. The people and institutions responsible largely go unpunished, sometimes even getting to be praised and sought out for their advice, without facing a single criticism for their involvement in the first place. Added to this is the classism, racism, and sexism that are largely ignored, or worse, obscured by fanatics and extremists so that no sensible discourse can be initiated. Added to this is constant fear, the destabilizing of countries and governments, the installation of regimes, the imbalance of news and the conflict of interests in academia and economics, the loss of oversight and accountability in finance, and a poisonous attitude towards foreign affairs.

Canada, in particular, is going to shit. That may sound strange coming from a canuck, where free health care and pot and gay marriage are supposed to be a given, but this rosy image of us is largely being touted by Canadians who have no clue. Our “free” health care is constantly under attack by private interest groups who claim that the U.S. is taking all our good doctors and people are becoming free loaders. The same goes for illicit drugs, with increased sentences under Harper’s Conservative government, not to mention a constant pressure by conservatives in this country to criminalize gay marriage. These are just social issues compared to the immense environmental and economic damage that the Harper administration is committing with deregulation and privatization, coupled with a very worrisome trend of silencing critics through various backhanded tactics.
Seeing this as clearly as we can, but not being able to do anything about it is exactly the type of thing that disillusions an entire generation. Our generation watched 9/11 without knowing what the hell was going on. When we turned to the news, most of us sensed there was a wider problem not being discussed. A lot of the violence in music you see now is our handling that problem. It’s not much of a coincidence that there was an influx of ‘core bands in the years following 9/11. We’ve tried to deal with the fact that our world is fucked, either through music or through belonging to the community of music.

photo by Sean DeCory
That’s why I think I see this scene is splitting at the seams. There are people who try to do what they can, but end up splitting hairs about language and “positive” spaces and dumpster diving and fucking zines and on and on that aren’t really doing anything. It’s just navel-gazing. But I don’t blame them. I used to do the same things, and I still wholeheartedly side with the ideology behind creating equity and diversity. The problem is that the activities i find people doing in the name of those ideals IS navel gazing, no two ways you slice it. Arguing and being divisive and attacking your friends in an emotionally charged atmosphere, talking behind their backs, smearing their reputation because they are uninformed, these are all problems that are facing our scene in Toronto and now Montreal. There are certain people who are more comfortable being involved with small-scale freeganism and regurgitating rhetoric they found in a zine or on a website at some accountability process or workshop, but won’t sit down next to the people that aren't as well informed, or worse, disagree. This bothers me for one big reason: in my eyes, the way you create change is proximity. There’s a big reason why Cheney always voted pro-gay in Congress: it’s because his daughter’s a lesbian. Same thought process behind awareness for disease, it's only when they affect the wealthy and enfranchised that solutions start getting made. AIDS awareness only became a serious issue when several “respectable” members of society came out to the public with the issue. So for me, the solution is proximity. Instead of rooting through rotting tomatoes in a dumpster, fucking clean yourself up and strike up a moderate conversation with someone who you know disagrees with you. By listening to (better yet, befriending) someone and having an intellectual conversation, you’re doing more for the world we live in than segregating yourself from society and taking potshots at people who also care. But people don't, because they're stuck in their idea of what's right, and also it takes a lot work to be patient and calm in the face of people who disagree with you because of their willful ignorance. But basically, proximity is key, and no one seems to knows it.

photo by Yoshi Cooper @ Yosh Photography
On top of that, I see religion and a new era of sponsored ignorance being the biggest problem facing us. People aren’t concerned with shit right now, because they only care about the next life. I think if you belong to a religion, you’re doing the human race a disservice. You’re actively claiming that everything that we’ve done is because of some deity. Fuck your deity, fuck your god, fuck religion, and fuck you. It kills me inside to know that the majority of this planet still thinks a crucified man or a faceless god or an empty promise is all somehow more important than the world we live in today. Look around you. We came from nothing. We created society and built monuments. We wiped out millions of people and extended our finger to the cosmos. Have some fucking respect for the potential for greatness and evil in humanity, and stop lighting incense and candles. Grow up and embrace knowledge and science and learning and wisdom. Instead we get woeful ignorance about the world around us and the context with which it was created. This recent trend against intellectualism is disturbing, I want to see people reading and creating and expressing.

This, all of this, is why I’m angry.

That and I need a beer.

DoC: The song "Men of the Lie" originally appeared on the Working Class Bastards cassette. Did you already know then that the song would be part of a trilogy with "Men of the Cloth" and "Men of the Tie"?

Yeah, we had recorded the seven songs, and I had titled three of them (with some help from the band, obviously!) as “Men of the…”, so we knew we were going to put the three on the same release, for sure. We just wanted to put "Men of the Lie" out there to show two sides of us, with Working Class Bastards showing our quicker, more dissonant side, while Men of the Lie shows how heavy we can get.

DoC: If you were stuck in an elevator with a businessman, a clergyman and a politician, what would you say to them?

Hahaha, in my ideal mind, I’d probably throw some money on the ground and go “fight, fight, fight!” and make pig noises. Maybe something about kill whitey.

In reality, I’d at my worst say out loud, “So there’s a businessman, a priest, and politician all stuck in an elevator…”, just to see which one would crack up.

I won’t lie, I’m not an angry person in my day-to-day life. It’s all very personal, and my partner, Marrison, knows that side of me better than anyone else I feel. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be as articulate about issues and my own anger, I wouldn’t be the person I am now (which is to say better than I used to be) without her in my life. I owe so much of my ability to be confident and emotionally aware to her, she has given me the gift of life in that regard.

So no, I wouldn’t say anything really, but if I struck up conversation, I would listen. I would watch out for the lie. I would watch out for where their ideology conflicts with my own understanding of the world, and point it out. I would listen and make observations. I may not change all three, but if I change one of their opinions on one issue, that’s immense. Really, that’s huge, because that has a ripple effect greater than anything else. That’s real change.

DoC: Given how short your songs are, what's the longest live set you've ever played?

Two hours. We get a lot of encores from my mom.

In all seriousness, it’s got to be 25 minutes, at our EP release. That’s seriously including intros and outros and banter and shit. (Not actual shit, I’m not fucking G.G. Allin over here).

photo by Yoshi Cooper @ Yosh Photography
DoC: If you had to tour with 3 bands, who would they be?

Oh fuck, HRS LVR just broke up, and they were our BOYYYYYZ. This is fucking hard. Do they have to still be around?


Okay, if they’re still around and I have to know them personally, I’m picking Creeper, Animal Faces, and Bandera. They’re all my friends and they all love to have a good time. I’m honestly smiling right now, thinking about it, that would be the most ridiculous tour this planet has ever seen. So sloppy, so dusty.

This is really hard though. Dammit. Okay, I’m cheating, sorry bud.

If I get to pick whoever I want as long as they’re still a band, I’m going Burning Love, Gaza, and Code Orange Kids. I have my reasons, but I think that would be fucking destructive.

Okay, I know I’m the worst, but I want to pick again. If I get to pick whoever I want, alive or not: Daughters, duh. The Locust. Aaaaand Steve Winwood. Just kidding, George Michael. Okay, but in all seriousness, third would be Blood Brothers. Imagine how fucking weird that whole mix would be? Daughters, The Locust, The Blood Brothers, and us? Jesus Christ I’m getting shivers just thinking about it. Woof.

DoC: The song "Tabula Rasa" features the memorable line, "We are Satan's cunt/just a mercy fuck" …how soon can we see this on the back of a t-shirt?

That’s actually a great idea, I wouldn’t mind making some offensive shirts, as long as people are in on it. I said that line just trying to win that race to the bottom of evil. Everyone’s on that upside down cross dick these days, so I figured I’d let people know that I am the harshest dude out there.
I’m laughing pretty hard right now.

If we ever do make one, send me your address and we’ll send it along with a bunch of surprises for you.

Again, great idea.

DoC: What's next for Pretty Mouth? 

Okay, I hope I got all of this:

-We just finished doing promo shots with my buddy Joel Gale, so those are starting to come out.

-We also shot a music video for "Men of the Tie" that same day, and that will be done very soon. 

-We’ve already written another six songs (eight if you include re-writes) and so we’re in our hunting out recording studios stage while we finish writing as many more as possible.

-We’re working on getting a compilation of Toronto bands going, that is in the seriously early stages. 

-We’re going to work on making more shirts, making more tapes (we already sold out of them!) and generally upping our merch situation.
-TOUR! Still in the works, it’s going to be in Ontario and partly Quebec, and will be in the summer. I’m done school now, so nothing can stop us. Except for death, that’s a definite full stop on the venture.

And generally, we’re going to just be as active as possible, we have a goal set out for 2013 to make this the year we start to see an impact from all our work. Remember to like us on Facebook if you want to be super annoying and let your mom and dad know you’re angry at the world. Our EP is only a few bones, and you can check it out on

Visit the Facebook and Bandcamp pages of the following: Creeper, Animal Faces, Bandera, Burning Love, Yesterday, NCJT Records (which is coming out with a new name, so stay in the know by visiting now!), and George Michael. Do it. (I know I forgot a host of others, but I was supposed to finish this interview fucking ages ago, so go do your own marketing.)

Find Pretty Mouth on Facebook

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